12 major international tournaments, 12 group stage exits – History repeats itself for Scotland

0 shots on target vs Hungary 

12 major international tournaments, 12 group stage exits - History repeats itself for Scotland


As Kevin Csoboth scored in the tenth minute of injury time to give Hungary all three points, a familiar feeling loomed over Scottish football. Out in the group stages again. A resilient draw against Switzerland in Scotland’s second outing had restored hope after the initial 5-1 thumping to hosts Germany in the Euro 2024 opener. Playing against a Hungary side who hadn’t taken a single point from their opening two games looked to represent a genuine opportunity for Scotland to make it to the knockout stages, but Steve Clarke’s side failed to even register a shot on target. They finished the game with 0.13 expected goals, and finished the tournament in the usual trend that now stretches all the way back to the 1954 World Cup.

Remarkably, it is now 12 major international tournaments for Scotland and 12 group stage exits. Considering in the last two Euros, of which Scotland competed at both, even the third place teams have a good chance of making it through, that’s quite the record. So how does the Scot’s abysmal record at major international tournaments compare to other nations? Can anyone else top Scotland for going to more tournaments and never making it out of the group? We have compiled a list of the ten worst performing nations. By major international tournaments we are including World Cup plus main continental competition such as Euros, Copa América, Africa Cup of Nations etc.

Nations who have been to the most international tournaments without leaving the group stages

From the horrific record already mentioned it’s not much surprise that Scotland are first when it comes to the most major tournaments attended to without making out of the group, but the distance to the next nation is perhaps a shock. Scotland lead with 12 tournaments and 12 group exits (eight World Cups and four Euros) and the next nation on the list is Kenya who have participated in just six tournaments without leaving the group. All of those tournaments for Kenya have been in the Africa Cup Of Nations – they have never qualified for the World Cup.

There are three nations who have been to five tournaments without making it past the group. Zimbabwe and Mozambique have both been to five Africa Cup Of Nations without exiting the group, whilst Serbia have been to four World Cups and one Euros, although a victory this Tuesday against Denmark could finally take them to the knockout stage and get the Serbs of the list. Slovenia, Kuwait and Guinea-Bissau have each been to four major tournaments without progressing past the groups, whilst India and Albania are among six nations to have been to three major tournaments without leaving the group.

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